Blog Post

Terminal Cancer Patient Fights Assisted Suicide

J. J. Hanson (YouTube)

Even though he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer three years ago – and told he had only about four months to live – J. J. Hanson is still alive and fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide.

CNA/EWTN News is reporting on the story of Hanson, a former Marine who was diagnosed with glioblastoma three years ago. This is the same cancer that led Brittany Maynard to take her life in a high-profile case in California in 2014.

“The surgeon said my cancer was inoperable and three different doctors told me there was nothing they could do,” Hanson said.

Even though he would have easily met the criteria to access assisted suicide if he lived in a state like Oregon or California, this just wasn't the route for him.

“In a dark moment, I might have opted for it, but I am fortunate to have a supportive family, and was given the opportunity to pursue cutting edge, experimental treatment instead,” he said. “Here I am three years later, enjoying the arrival of our second son and living life to the fullest.”

Hanson serves as president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which is currently backing a Congressional resolution objecting to assisted suicide on the grounds that it puts everyone at risk, not just the terminally ill.

“When assisted suicide becomes accepted public policy it threatens the lives of everyone, especially the poor, elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and terminally ill,” Hanson said. “Why? Well, for starters, abuse is unavoidable and doctors are fallible. Assisted suicide policy also injects government insurers and private insurance companies with financial incentives into every single person’s end of life decisions.”

As Hanson states, the low cost of lethal medication makes it far more likely to be recommended to disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Rather than allow these abuses to happen, Hanson is getting behind Congressional Resolution 80, proposed last week by Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and a bipartisan coalition of nine other lawmakers.

The resolution states that assisted suicide “puts everyone, including those most vulnerable, at risk of deadly harm and undermines the integrity of the health care system.”

Even though assisted suicide laws include so-called “safeguards” that limit the procedure to persons diagnosed with six months or less to live, people outlive these diagnoses every day.

The federal government “should ensure that every person facing the end of their life has access to the best quality and comprehensive medical care,” including palliative or hospice care, says the resolution. It says the federal government “should not adopt or endorse policies or practices that support, encourage, or facilitate suicide or assisted suicide, whether by physicians or others.”

Wenstrup and the resolution’s sponsors said that physician-assisted suicide “undermines a key safeguard that protects our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and people experiencing psychiatric diagnoses. Americans deserve better.”

“When governments support, encourage, or facilitate suicide – whether assisted by physicians or others – we devalue our fellow citizens, our fellow human beings,” the legislators said. “That should not be who we are.”

The bill is backed by other groups such as the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Not Dead Yet, ADAPT, and Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Fund.

“Many do not realize that people battling terminal illness, people with disabilities and others are inadvertently targeted by the legalization of assisted suicide. . .,” Hanson said. “This bill brings attention to this important issue and takes a big step toward protecting me and so many others from a death-too-soon.”

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